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This One is for the Boys: Men and Journaling

by Jacki Andre 14 Jun 2020
This One is for the Boys: Men and Journaling

Bullet journals are known for their splashy, artistic spreads, like those tagged as #bulletjournalspreads over at Instagram. One look at all the flowers, cartoon characters, and pastel colors, and some men might decide that, nah, bullet journaling is NOT for them. 

But keep in mind, dear male readers, that history is riddled with men who kept writing journals. Riddled. As Brett and Kate McKay point out at The Art of Manliness, writing journals were kept by the likes of:

  • Theodore Roosevelt
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Charles Darwin
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Lewis and Clark
  • Andrew Carnegie
  • Winston Churchill

And yet, in 2020, men often approach the idea of journaling with trepidation. That apprehension seems to be rooted in the idea that journaling is about making pretty pages. As one Redditor says, he was initially “blown away by all the girls with fancy tape and stuff.”

That Redditor isn’t a lone wolf either. In his YouTube video, Matthew Kent expresses the same sentiments. Kent had watched other YouTube videos, hoping for bullet journaling inspiration. But, he had difficulty relating to the aesthetic that the other Youtubers presented. He explains:

I want[ed] to get a guy’s perspective and see …somebody doing [bullet journaling] who isn’t quite filling it up with all these colors that I don’t want to fill my journal up with. And, you know, has about my artistic level because I’m not good. … I think most girls are more artsy than most guys.

Here's the thing, though: journaling is what you want it to be. As I discussed in my blog about how to get started with a bullet journal, your journal is yours. You do you. No one says you HAVE TO use “fancy tape” but no one says you CAN’T.

In most cases, our writing journals are for our eyes only. And, that’s a good thing. Journals are at their most valuable when we use them as “a safe space to offload, without fear of being judged.”

Pulling out a blank notebook and writing stuff down has so many benefits. Stop worrying about what your journal should look like and just start writing.

Just Start Writing

The act of journaling is introspective. And, as Clair De Boer writes, men often have some fear about introspective writing. “On the whole,” De Boer says, “men are less likely to open up emotionally amongst friends, whereas women do this often.”

It’s tempting to roll my eyes here. “Duh! This is news?” But that flippancy fades when faced with statistics. They are startling. Ollie Aplin’s stats in The Guardian are for Great Britain but are relevant nonetheless:

  • Suicide is the leading cause of death for men between the ages of 20 and 49.
  • Three times as many men as women commit suicide.
  • When feeling depressed, 67% of women and 55% of men will confide in someone.

This is exactly why you should just start writing. Writing journals provide a safe space to unload, vent, process, express emotions, and get introspective.

But What Exactly Do I Write?

Don't let that blank notebook stay blank. There are all kinds of ways you ca fill it up:

  • Keeping gratitude lists
  • Tracking goals and the steps taken towards completing them
  • Noting life or daily lessons
  • Monitoring health
  • Tracking habits
  • Budgeting
  • Scrutinizing your relationships for deeper understanding
  • Recording bucket lists, dreams, hopes, and passions
Why Bother?

I hear you. I do. Journaling can seem overwhelming when you're not actually doing it. The whole washi tape debacle. Getting in touch with your emotions. Lined journals vs those with blank or dotted pages. Moleskine vs. Leuchtturm vs. a more personalized journal, like SohoSpark's Black Dragon writing journalIndexes and bullet keys. So much to consider.

Yep, it’s overwhelming. Yep, you should still do it.

As already stated, journaling is good for your mental health. That should be reason enough.

Writing down goals--be they daily tasks or bigger, bucket-list items--helps you keep your eye on the prize.

Habit trackers, which help you monitor things like your health and wellness, fitness, budgeting, screen time, and chores, can provide valuable insights. And those insights can provide the motivation you need to complete positive habits (or nix negative ones).

Doing braindumps can provide clarity as you clear your mind of extraneous thoughts.

It’s easier to remember stuff when you write it down.

As you review your writing journal periodically, you can get a better understanding of where you are in life, and where you want to go. Have your dreams and goals changed? Do you need to drink more water? Are you paying your bills on time?

And, finally, a journal is a terrific organizational tool. And that’s really what a bullet journal, in particular, was meant to be.

Whatever your vision for your journal is, just do it. Don't let anyone's gender norms box you in.

Photo by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash

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